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What is the successful path to become a chemical engineer?

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I want to be able to make medicine and find more healthier ways to take the meds. #chemical-engineering #chemical-engineer #chemicals

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Matthew’s Answer

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Good question Byron - I studied chemical engineering at UMass Amherst because I wanted to be involved in renewable fuels. A successful path includes doing well in the core engineering curriculum and identifying what area of chemical engineering interests you so that you can get some experience, either through an internship or research project, before graduating.

The core classes are pretty rigorous, but I wouldn't let it scare you off. The classes all build on one another, so don't worry if multi-variable calculus, differential equations, or physical chemistry sounds hard right now. You have plenty of time to get ready for them, and there are plenty of resources including tutoring, teaching assistants, and office hours to make sure you are successful in your undergraduate career. You can see what the UMass curriculum looks like at this link: https://cesd3.oit.umass.edu/undergradguide/2012-2013/Page5554.html

As for the second part...I can't recommend getting research or industry experience enough. Chemical engineers can do just about anything....from biomedical research, to creating new scents and flavors for healthy and beauty care products, to brewing beer and creating the next generation of fuels and energy sources! There are lots of groups on campus like student chapter of American Society of Chemical Engineers to help put you in touch. I did a few research programs where schools like the Univ. California - Santa Barbara and MIT flew me out and paid me to do research with their professors over the summer. It was a great experience to see what graduate school would be like and gave me a chance to start presenting my research at conferences around the country. I got to win a few awards which helped distinguish me when I was ready to start applying for graduate school and jobs. I also did an internship with a lubricant technology firm that was owned by Shell and ExxonMobil. That was really cool because I got to see what working in industry was like and save some money for when I went back to school.

Anyway, short story here is treat school like your job and it will pay off. I hope this is helpful and feel free to ask some follow up questions if you want.

Updated
Matt said something very important here: treat school like your job. Would you be late to work? Would you turn your back on an assignment your boss gives you? Would you give up, quit, and go home with nothing? So you shouldn't do it at school. Chemical engineering is one of the hardest majors out there and there will be plenty of times you stay home studying. It's all worth it when you graduate as a chemical engineer with a good GPA and realize you can literally do any job you want if you put your mind to it. Want to develop pharma? Want to build oil rigs? Want to work to protect the environment? You can make the decision to do any of these things once you graduate. Big rewards only come to those that work harder than others.